Will Virginia Find Out?
If you have a Virginia driver’s license and are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in another state, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will generally find out about the incident. This is because Virginia is a part of the Driver’s License Compact. The compact is comprised of 45 other states which all agree to share DUI record information. The only non-participating states include Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. So, unless the DWI conviction occurred in one of these five states, if you are convicted in another state but hold a Virginia license there is likely no hiding the truth.
What Happens Now?
The most important thing to note is that your out-of-state DWI will be treated as though it occurred within the jurisdiction of Virginia itself. In other words, you can expect the same level of punishment had the case occurred in Virginia.
As for immediate consequences, as soon as the Virginia DMV receives notice of your out-of-state DWI, your license will most likely be suspended for a period of one year. From this point on, you have three options: (1) wait until the one-year period is up and go from there, (2) apply for a restricted license, or (3) petition the Circuit Court to reverse the suspension.
If you choose to wait until the one-year period runs out, getting your license back requires payment of a reinstatement fee and enrollment and completion in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). Instead of waiting one year, you can apply for a restricted license which would allow you to drive to and from work or school, attend healthcare appointments, and any other destinations deemed absolutely necessary.
One caveat: you may have to meet other requirements to obtain the restricted driver’s license, including the installation of an ignition interlock device, completion of VASAP, and payment of the license reinstatement fee. Thus, while the restricted license truly is restricted, it is the best option for those who have to get to work/school and have little to no other means of transportation.
Finally, the option of petitioning the Circuit Court to reverse the suspension of your license is a rarity. It can really only be used if a valid argument can be made that the DWI law behind the out-of-state conviction is so substantially dissimilar to Virginia’s DWI law that the conviction should not be allowed to stand. However, upon a successful petition, you would be able to drive freely in the state of Virginia, without any sort of restriction.
Consulting an Attorney
As always, it's best to consult an attorney to discuss the options available to you. An attorney will work with you to understand the particular facts of your case so that you can achieve an outcome that will best suit your circumstances. That being said, if you have any questions, we absolutely recommend that you reach out to us or another attorney.